Women of En Vía

Travel • Learn • Empower

Meet Elodia

Elodia supports herself and her family by making and selling tortillas in Tlacachahuaya. She works seven days a week, building a fire at 8 a.m. to finish cooking about 150 tortillas by noon.

With her first loan she purchased a new comal, a round clay surface upon which the tortillas are cooked. The comal is an essential part of the process, and with constant use they wear out about every six months. Elodia used a subsequent loan to purchase firewood, as she was previously using a root commonly found in the area as fuel, which would deteriorate the comal at a faster pace. The third loan helped her purchase corn, salt, lime and plastic bags. Before receiving loans from En Via, Elodia purchased all the supplies and ingredients on credit. She says that now that she can purchase these products outright she gets a much better price and makes larger profits.

The long hours Elodia spent making tortillas everyday used to be spent cooking over an open fire. The soot from the flames coated the corrugated steel of the walls of her kitchen and the smoke posed a serious health risk. In July 2012, En Vía did a special project utilizing donations and volunteer efforts to build Elodia a brand new kitchen, with a new and improved oven that features a chimney, carrying the smoke outside and away from her lungs.

"Now I don’t have to inhale smoke or burn myself as often, and it also saves on fuel costs because the firewood burns more slowly," says Elodia, when asked how her life has changed since.

With the increased profits from her business, Elodia is able to send her daughter to high school. She is the first of Elodia’s four children to continue their education past middle school. Elodia has to pay 70 pesos (about 5 USD) a day for her daughter Carina to attend school, as well as pay for uniforms, books, inscriptions fees and daily transport to Oaxaca City. Carina has one more year to graduate, after which she wants to study and take exams to become an air traffic controller.